Keeping business records if self-employed

Now that we are approaching the end of the 2019-20 tax year it’s worth noting that you are required to keep your self-employed business records – that underpin your self-assessment tax return for 2019-20 – for 5 years after the 31 January 2021 submission deadline.

This means that you will need to retain your 2019-20 business records until the end of January 2026.

If you lose your business records or if they are stolen or destroyed and you are unable to recreate the transactions, you must do your best to provide figures for your tax return. You will need to advise HMRC if you use estimated or provisional figures.

Your records will need to back-up your business sales, expenses and VAT/PAYE records if you are registered for VAT or employ people.

HMRC may ask to see your:

  • Receipts for goods or stock,
  • Bank statements, cheque book stubs,
  • Copy sales invoices, till rolls and bank paying in slips.

Also, if you have produced accounts using the traditional, accruals method, HMRC may ask to see further records that provide details of:

  • what you are owed but have not received yet
  • what you have committed to spend but have not paid out yet, for example you have received an invoice but have not paid it yet
  • the value of stock and work in progress at the end of your accounting period
  • your year-end bank balances
  • how much you have invested in the business in the year
  • how much money you’ve taken out for your own use.

If you keep your records in a computerised format, make sure you backup each year’s transactions so you can provide details if required.

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